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Mystery of Culdaff jawbone 13.02.08

by Simon McGeady, Inishowen Independent

MYSTERY still surrounds the skeletal remains of a human jawbone found in Cloncha Graveyard, near Culdaff. The grisly discovery was made last October by locals who came across the partially covered jaw-bone on the path that runs around Cloncha Graveyard. The individual then informed Neil McGrory, a member of the Culdaff and Cloncha Heritage Group, who contacted the relevant authorities before Christmas - but as yet there has been no investigation.
“I reported the find to the National Monuments Service, who would have responsibility over Cloncha graveyard as the site is a national monument. I spoke to the Government archaeologist responsible for Donegal who said someone would be coming out to investigate the bone, but that hasn’t happened yet,” said Mr. McGrory.  The partially exposed jawbone in Cloncha Graveyard, Culdaff.
Because the bone was found on State property, no-one other than the Government agency is authorised to investigate the find, according to the Culdaff businessman who added that, while he appreciated that that archaeologist had a busy schedule, the delay in sending someone out to investigate the Cloncha bone is indicative of the lack of investment in the Cloncha site.
“Cloncha Graveyard is a national monument, just like An Grianan, but to me the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no investigation is indicative of the lack of investment at Cloncha. A sign for the graveyard has been left broken and there is nothing spent on the upkeep of the site.”
Regarding the bone, Mr. McGrory insisted that the mystery needed to be cleared up as soon as possible.
“It might be that the bone is some benign remains that somehow got disturbed, but in the case where human remains are found you would imagine there would be an investigation. The jawbone is not located in the graveyard itself but on a path nearby, which is unusual. On a basic level it’s disrespectful to leave the bone where it is.”
Mr. McGrory would not speculate on the story behind the mystery jawbone but added that until it was checked out, the speculation would continue.
“Who knows why the bone is not in the burial area? It could be that the bone dates from the time the graveyard was in use, about 1700, but if it’s more recent then it would raise a lot of questions,” added the restaurant owner.
Mr McGrory added that after any investigation, he would like to see the jawbone reburied in the graveyard.
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